Former CIA Agent Seeks Return of US Passport
WASHINGTON (AP) _ An attorney for former CIA operative Philip Agee argued today that State Department refusal to grant Agee a U.S. passport is punishment for his exposure of alleged misdeeds by U.S. intelligence agents in Latin America.
Melvin Wulf, Agee’s attorney, argued that federal authorities did not want to take their case to court because his client ″was subjected to illegal activities by the CIA ... and perhaps other agencies of the U.S. government.″
Agee lost his passport in 1979 and the Supreme Court upheld the department’s authority to withhold the document on grounds that he exposed CIA operations and undercover agents abroad, violating a secrecy agreement he signed when he joined the agency in 1957.
At the time, Agee acknowledged that his disclosures had damaged U.S. national security. But in an interview before today’s hearing he said, ″that was a tactical move. The situation has changed.″
Wulf said that ″it is now our position that his revelations help national security.″
Agee and his attorney argued their case this morning before Michele Truitt, a State Department hearing officer, who said she would submit a report to Assistant Secretary of State Joan Clark.
Last January, before he returned to the United States, Agee applied again for a passport, but Secretary of State George Shultz decided that ″there was no evidence that the situation had materially changed.″
The U.S. government never brought an indictment against Agee, despite accusations that he collaborated with the Cuban intelligence agency, Direccion General de Intelligence, known as DGI.
″I am sure that they would like to prosecute him,″ Wulf said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Wulf denied claims that Agee collaborated with the intelligence service of any communist nation and said that in 1978 the CIA sought to indict Agee but backed off to avoid disclosure in a trial of ″things they were doing to him.″
″We don’t know what they were doing to Phil,″ said Wulf. But ″it may have been an illegal phone tap.″
In a motion filed with the State Department on Aug. 25, Wulf demanded that the government divulge any evidence it had that Agee violated laws, such as by collaborating with foreign intelligence. It also demanded that the government disclose whether it had committed ″any unlawful acts″ in collecting evidence against him.
CIA spokeswoman Sharon Foster declined to comment on any aspect of the Agee case, describing it as ″an intelligence matter.″ She said a review of the Agee file did not yield any public statements by CIA officials that Agee ever worked for a foreign intelligence service.
After working 11 years for the CIA, Agee quit in 1968. He ended up in Cuba, where he spent some months in 1970 collecting what he later called ″documentation″ for his book.
In 1975, he published ″Inside the Company: CIA Diary,″ which carried a 22-page index of alleged agency operatives, and chronicled what Agee described as CIA actions against leftists in Latin America, particularly U.S. links with the Chilean military, which toppled Marxist president Salvador Allende.
This year, Agee published his fifth book, ″On the Run,″ describing alleged CIA harassment against him since 1968. Agee claims that CIA pressure caused him to be expelled from Britain, France, Italy and the Netherlands.
He managed to settle in West Germany, traveling on a Nicaraguan passport, and returned to the United States earlier this year.